Structural Editing

Structural editing (also known as 'developmental editing') is the first stage of editing for publication, and is all about the bigger picture.
     The structural editor reads through the typescript, as if it were a published book, in order to understand the whole story and how everything fits together, covering such aspects as general structure (chapters, parts, etc), plot development, narrative voice, point of view, writing style, characterisation, timeline, and dialogue mechanics.
     Any major issues found during structural editing need to be remedied by the author before copy-editing can commence. This may mean rewriting, moving, deleting or adding text.
     Part of the structural editor's remit is to advise and suggest, but never to rewrite; that is the author's job!
How I work. At the structural editing stage, the first thing I do is save a copy of the client's original typescript as a new Word document, with a unique filename. This becomes my working copy, which I format for ease of reading and marking up before printing a hard copy. I read it through once, making notes as I go. I compile a plot breakdown, a list of characters and place names, and notes specific to each chapter. Once completed, I type up a structural report for the author. This report is an editorial critique, not a creative writing critique (although there is some overlap). There may be revisions for the author to make before copy-editing takes place.

How long will it take? Structural editing is the most complex and labour-intensive stage of the editing process, and invariably takes the longest time to complete. It's difficult to specify a precise timescale; most likely, there will be work for the author to carry out. Timings will depend on the author's availability and turnaround time, and how the work is being carried out; for example, chapter by chapter (my preferred option) or in larger chunks. Also, the timescale will depend on the number of words the typescript has. Clearly, the structural edit of a 25,000-word typescript will not take as long as one that has 90,000 words.

How much will it cost? My fee for structural editing is combined with my fee for copy-editing: £10 per 1,000 words (the structural editing fee being £6.00 per 1,000 words). I also charge a one-off fee for printing the typescript (calculated on the number of printed pages).

What happens next? It is likely that the author will have some work to do at the structural editing stage.  How long this takes will depend on the availability of the author to carry out any changes. Only when this is complete, can I begin the second stage of editing: 2. Copy-editing.
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